One of the last tiki and tropical themed Shag originals from a decade of hundreds of mid-century styled Shag paintings was Caliban, from his Merchant of Menace exhibit in San Francisco in 2007.
Caliban is a beast-like character from Shakespeare’s 400-year-old play, The Tempest. As the story goes, the character Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, is sent away in exile on a small boat with his daughter Miranda. The two find themselves on a remote island, where they encounter Caliban, and force him into servitude. Shag cleverly captures the story in his unique mid-century style, from Prospero’s 50’s rattan-woven throne, to the Eames-like table with bamboo legs on the flagstone floor. Shag illustrates Caliban as a true beast and servant, hunched over with a fish in hand as Prospero jesters him to come forward.
The background of the painting adds a real uniqueness not seen in most other Shag works. Giant and exaggerated waves reach up to a dark purple sky, with illustrated-style rain pouring down in a linear 45 degree angle, a brushed descriptive from the stormy opening of Shakespeare’s Scene 1.
References to Shakespeare are throughout Shag’s Merchant of Menace exhibit, where the bust of Shakespeare is the center point in two of the works, Green Nude with Bust of Shakespeare and Red Nude with Bust of Shakespeare.

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